Iron Maiden are one of the biggest bands on the planet. They are one of the most influential heavy metal acts of all time and have sold over 100 million records worldwide, selling out stadiums across the globe. Throughout their long and winding career, they’ve consistently managed to bounce back from struggle and maintain a level of success that many of their contemporaries could only have dreamed of achieving.
Their lyrics cover an array of topics, including history, literature, war, mythology, society and religion, and this variance has given the band a fluidity that has augmented what would otherwise be an out and out metal style, giving a density to their work that has also culminated in their enduring legacy.
In addition to their unmistakable musical style, their zombie-like mascot ‘Eddie’ is one of the most instantly recognisable in the whole of music. He’s up there with The Rolling Stones‘ lips and Misfits’ skull logo.
The band formed back in 1975 and have released a whopping 17 studio albums to date. Given they’ve released so much music, it’s unsurprising that the band prefer some of their works to others. In December 2017, frontman Bruce Dickinson spoke to the Irish Times and revealed what his favourite album by the band is, and it’s one of their most iconic.
He said: “(The) Number of the Beast was the album that really launched the band properly on the world stage. The first two albums were very good, very successful. Killers, in particular, is a favourite of mine. The sound on that album really was the sound that should have been on the first Iron Maiden album.”
He continued: “In fact, Martin Birch, who produced the Killers album, Steve Harris (the founder and bass player of Iron Maiden) wanted to use him for the first album, but they didn’t approach him because they thought he wouldn’t be interested. Steve has always regretted the production on the very first album. It is not up to the quality of Killers.”
Killers, the band’s second album, was released in 1981. The last record to feature the first vocalist Paul Di’Anno, it included classics such as ‘Twilight Zone’ and ‘Purgatory’, amongst many other tracks that are favoured by diehard fans of the band. Di’Anno was fired shortly after its release due to his live performances being affected by his alcohol and cocaine abuse.
The first album to feature guitarist Adrian Smith, it saw the band start to solidify their blueprint moving forward, and after its release, upon hiring Bruce Dickinson, they would have hit record after hit record, and earned themselves legions of fans in the process. It’s where it all truly started for Iron Maiden, and without the album, it is sure that they would not have gone on to have the career – and the beer – that they are known for today. Its follow up, 1982’s The Number of the Beast, saw the band go stratospheric.
Elsewhere in the interview, Dickinson made a thinly veiled dig at the genre of punk, discussing the common misconception that during the band’s early days, they were a punk band at heart. “Ironically people thought Iron Maiden was a bit of a punk band because it (the debut album) sounds shit,” he said. “When Killers came out, people thought Iron Maiden had come across all smooth and refined. We were never supposed to be a punk band. Steve hated punk. I didn’t hate punk, but, at the same time, it never did a great deal for me.”
Metal to the core, and still receiving widespread critical acclaim to this day, Killers remains an entry-level staple for those starting to immerse themselves in the vast world of heavy metal. Very ’80s and slightly cheesy, it’s not for everyone, but taken in the right context, it’s a masterpiece.
Listen to ‘Purgatory’ below.